A press release received today from the Sierra Club:
Sierra Club Ohio Chapter Sues Ohio DNR for Public Records, Again
Columbus, Ohio - The Sierra Club Ohio Chapter has again been forced to file a lawsuit in order to obtain public records from Ohio Department of Natural Resources under Ohio's open records law, Revised Code 149.43. This marks the third time in two years that the organization has had to file suit against the department for records. The suit was filed in the Franklin County Court of Appeals on Wednesday, April 2.
The records requested were regarding department meetings and emails with the oil and gas industry during the development of rules governing the controversial practice of fracking for natural gas currently being drafted by the department. The rule making process has been recently criticized by environmental groups for not going nearly far enough to ensure public protections from pollution associated with fracking. The Sierra Club requested the records from the department almost two months ago but has not received them. Ohio's public records law requires the records to be provided "promptly" which courts have interpreted to be as little as five days.
This denial of public records comes in the wake of the Club's unveiling of an uncovered public document that outlined a public relations campaign by the department and the Governor's office to discredit citizens groups and elected officials opposed to fracking in Ohio's state parks and forests.
The suit requests attorney fees and damages in addition to the prompt release of the Department's public records. In its two previous public records enforcement suits, the Department paid a total of over $11,000 to the Sierra Club.
"Even after 'frackgate,' both the agency and the current administration continue to have a culture of contempt for the public and even the law itself," said Brian Kunkemoeller of the Ohio Sierra Club. "This is becoming a very disturbing trend."
"It's past time for the Governor to come clean about the administration's efforts to work with industries that put Ohio's water at risk," said Jen Miller, Director of the Sierra Club Ohio Chapter.